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First Look: Mercedes-Benz GLE Coupe

From concept to coupe.

by on Dec.09, 2014

The new Mercedes-Benz GLE Coupe.

Picking up on the design theme first revealed in the form of the Mercedes-Benz Concept Coupe, the Teutonic automaker is giving us a first official look at the all-new GLE Coupe it will introduce at next month’s Detroit Auto Show.

For those who haven’t been keeping up with the news in recent weeks, Mercedes has decided to confuse – er, clarify – things by restructuring its model nomenclature, a move that primarily impacts its coupe and SUV models. So, GLE is a new name for the old M-Class. And, for 2016, the familiar four-door will now be joined by a coupe.

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Well, make that a coupe-like SUV, the GLE Coupe adopting the sort of rounded roof line we’ve been seeing on recent BMW models such as the X6 while maintaining the convenience of keeping those rear doors. The overall look is more of a tall wagon than a traditional SUV.

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Quirky BMW X6 Gets a Remake

Love it or loathe it, the quirky Sport Activity Coupe gets an update.

by on Jun.06, 2014

The BMW X6 has been one of the most controversial models in the maker's line-up.

One of the few things most folks can agree on is that the BMW X6 has been one of the most controversial products the Bavarian maker has ever produced.

With its aggressive nose and steeply raked roofline, it boasted many of the basic visual hallmarks of a classic BMW sports coupe. But it also had the high-riding heft of an SUV. For its part, BMW dubbed the X6 a Sport Activity Coupe when it made its debut in 2009. And love it or loathe it, the quirky hatchback has inspired a flood of similar designs from BMW and its competitors.

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Whether you want more – or wish it would go away, the BMW X6 is back for 2015 in a second-generation update that will see the maker take several steps that it hopes will expand the model’s appeal. That includes the addition of a new rear-drive version, as well as a more powerful V-8 option.

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Mercedes Set to Debut Concept SUV in Beijing

Likely forerunner of upcoming Mercedes MLC coupe/SUV.

by on Apr.10, 2014

The Mercedes-Benz Concept Coupe was previewed at the annual Daimler shareholders meeting.

If there are any white spaces left in the luxury car market, it seems like the German makers are intent on filling them as fast as possible.  We’ve been seeing a flood of new offerings in recent months and the tsunami is set to continue, if this image from Mercedes-Benz is any indication.

Dieter Zetsche, the Mercedes brand boss and Chairman of Daimler AG offered an unexpected sneak peak during the maker’s annual shareholders meeting of the Concept Coupe SUV.

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Set to make its official debut at the Beijing Motor Show later this month, it’s expected to reappear in the very near future in concept form as the new MLC-Class.

More aggressive than the familiar M-Class ute, the MLC is being targeted at the all-new BMW X6 five-door coupe/SUV.

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BMW Unveils Updated 5-Series GT and Concept X4

Broadening the range.

by on Nov.20, 2013

Like the bigger X6, the BMW Concept X4 aims to blend the genes of a sport-ute and a sport coupe.

The coming of the new BMW 4-Series Convertible created most of the pre-show buzz around the German maker’s appearance at the annual Los Angeles Auto Show. But BMW also has two other significant models, the Concept X4 and 5-Series Gran Turismo, making their North American debuts in L.A.

The BMW Concept X4 is meant to offer a preview of the future of the German maker’s X family, BMW designers looking to find a genetic balance, if you will, between a sport-ute and a coupe.  The show car gives a good hint as to what will come when the production X4 launches down the line at the BMW plant in Spartanburg, South Carolina next year.

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In addition to its long hood, short overhangs, swept roof and cab-rearward layout, the overall appearance of the Concept X4 is intended to capture the sportiness of a traditional BMW coupe, with familiar styling cues such as the split kidney grille and stylized twin circular headlights.

That’s not to say that the coupe-like crossover is just a design retread.

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(Almost) Official First Shots of BMW X4

Images leak ahead of Shanghai Auto Show debut.

by on Apr.04, 2013

One of a handful of BMW X4 images that have leaked out ahead of the official Shanghai debut.

BMW seems to be averse to leaving open any white space – or alphanumeric combinations – it seems, with all manner of new product filling in the gaps.

And so, with the replacement for the 3-Series Coupe and Convertible being rebadged the new 4-Series, the German maker had to come up with the coupe/crossover X4, as well. Long expected to debut later this month at Auto China 2013 in Shanghai, these images we found leaking out across the web appear to be the real thing – just a little earlier than BMW had apparently planned.

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The downsized version of the familiar X6 maintains the controversial, coupe-like roofline of the larger Sports Activity Vehicle but shares the same basic mechanicals as the smaller BMW X3.  The front and rear also adopt some of the basic design cues of the latest-generation 3-Series sedan, though there’s a fair bit more chrome here, tweaking out the distinctive new bumpers.

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Honda To Reveal New Crosstour at NY Auto Show

Maker hanging onto slow-selling crossover despite skeptics.

by on Mar.20, 2012

Honda's current Crosstour is struggling so the maker plans to reveal a major update in NY next month.

Honda hopes to kick-start one of its more embarrassing failures when it rolls out a new version of the Crosstour crossover at next month’s New York Auto Show.

For the moment, Honda is holding back details on the Crosstour update, but suggests it will reveal a “new exterior styling direction” during its April 4th news conference at New York’s Jacob Javits Convention Center.

It will need one.  Originally launched as the Accord Crosstour, the vehicle followed in the general direction of other recent sedan/CUV body styles, such as the BMW 5-Series GT and X6.  But the Honda version was all but universally panned – at least on the design front.  The Crosstour did do better in terms of quality and reliability ratings, J.D. Power declaring it the “Highest-Ranked Midsize Crossover/SUV” in the 2011 Initial Quality Survey.

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Honda marketers have been struggling to prop up the Crosstour this year.  Notably, they abandoned the link to the Accord line, which they felt might have been confusing potential customers.  Still, demand has been running in the 100s – barely – not the 1,000s, as Honda had originally hoped.

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First Look: 2013 BMW X6

Subtle changes to a game-changer.

by on Jan.26, 2012

BMW's X6 gets some small but noticeable updates.

BMW’s updated X6 Sport Activity Vehicle was one of those proverbial game-changers that comes along only every so often but then has a significant influence on automotive design.  In this case, any number of competitors has raced to match the Bavarian maker’s quirky blend of sporty coupe and crossover/utility features.

Though decidedly controversial – generating both picks and pans among industry critics, the first-generation BMW X6 has clicked with consumers, selling more than 150,000 copies worldwide, including 20,000 here in the U.S., which the German maker insists “has far exceeded the original expectations.”

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So, the spotlight is on the update that will be rolling into showrooms this spring.  Not surprisingly, especially for a mid-cycle update, goes through some evolutionary, rather than revolutionary, changes. But they should nonetheless enhance the appeal of the sport-activity coupe.

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BMW, Porsche Preparing Downsized Coupe/Crossovers

But Porsche product review could delay new Cajun.

by on Oct.14, 2010

A hint of what the BMW X4 could look like in production trim? A concept version is due in 2011.

How many models is too many?  While proliferation in the luxury car market has been intense in recent years, it looks like the high-line German marques are only beginning.

Both BMW and Porsche are well underway with the development of downsized crossover coupes that could hit market in the next couple years, according to media reports and company insiders – though Porsche’s new Cajun project is at least temporarily on hold.

The BMW offering has been dubbed the X4, and is sportier, coupe-bodied counterpart to the new 2011 X3 – or, if you prefer, a downsized alternative to the big BMW X6 coupe/crossover.

It will be offered with various 4- and 6-cylinder offerings, and probably a mix of gas and diesel powertrains for Europe.  Gearboxes will include BMW’s new 8-speed automatic.  All-wheel-drive appears likely to be the only torque delivery system on the planning books.

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An X3 M version of the 4-seat coupe/crossover is also under development, according to reports in AutoWeek and several other media outlets.

Word of the X4 has been circulating for at least two years but BMW apparently has given the project the go-ahead and a concept version is expected to surface on the auto show circuit sometime in 2011.

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First Drive: 2010 Acura ZDX

Missing the strike zone.

by on Nov.17, 2009

Is it a sports coupe, a crossover, a wagon...or...?  The Acura 2010 ZDX.

Is it a sports coupe, crossover, wagon...or...?

This year marks the 20th anniversary for Japan’s two largest luxury brands, Lexus and Infiniti, but it’s easy to forget that they were latecomers to the high-line market, following a half decade after the introduction of Acura.  With its original Legend sedan, Honda’s up-market division disproved the naysayers who argued the Japanese would never be able to build a word-class luxury car.

Unfortunately, over the years, Acura has had, at best, a mixed record with the models that have followed the original four-door.  It’s pitched some great ones at the market, including the MDX, the TL and the RL, but the marque’s latest model doesn’t even come close to the strike zone.

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The 2010 Acura ZDX is probably the weakest product to join the maker’s line-up since its early mid-size Vigor.  Indeed, it’s difficult to understand what Acura was trying to achieve with the new ZDX, which comes across as the automotive equivalent of a platypus, part crossover/SUV, part truck, part sport coupe.  In this case, it all adds up to less than the sum of its parts.

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First Drive: 2010 Honda Accord Crosstour

A big, heavy SUV? Say it ain’t so Honda.

by on Nov.03, 2009

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Here's Honda with a highly styled, $31,000 to $37,000, large, five-passenger SUV.

At what point does a Honda become an Acura or worse a truck?

Well, with the Accord Crosstour – a 197-inch long, 4,000-pound SUV – I’d argue that the day has arrived. And, I’m not thinking that it’s necessarily a good idea for Acura either, though it’s a better fit.

This faddish vehicle comes from a normally astute company and largely “green” automaker. Honda has — thus far — avoided the ongoing full-size pickup truck and SUV disasters that Toyota and Nissan brought on themselves and are costing their shareholders billions upon billions of dollars as assembly and engine plants lay idle or underused.

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Cargo volume because of the fastback is less than twice that of the Accord's trunk.

Now here comes Honda with a highly styled, $31,000 to $37,000, large, five-passenger SUV built in East Liberty, Ohio. The four-wheel drive EX-L version can be fitted with a satellite-linked navigation system and “Real Time” 4wd, available together or separately. The navigation system includes a backup camera with guidance lines integrated into the display.

This will push the asking price toward $40,000 and return, ahem, 17 mpg on the EPA city cycle.

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The lower trim level, EX, in front-drive configuration returns 18 mpg on the EPA city cycle. A day of test driving both models affirmed the ratings. Driven moderately at highway speeds 22-25 mpg is possible.

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